Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can starve from a lack of bread.

This week has been a lovely gift, when I put aside the mess that dumped on our stoop Thursday. I had a slow work week, giving me the time to pack our things and organize further.

I love organizing, as you all know. Outside of the whole, OCD thing, being organized gives me (and, I will forever argue, you as well) a sense of gratitude for what we have (our house is not overflowing with things), we can find everything, which impacts our timeliness, overall stress, and feelings of confidence. It provides me with a complete sense of preparedness, and I love the assurance I get from living simply (as an unofficial minimalist).

Physical orderliness gives me space to think and the combination of emotional and mental debris this week made my thought process uncomfortable. It felt like a giant, hurried gasp; open throat, rush of air, sinking heavy into my belly, coughing, slightly overwhelmed with the suddenness.

The feeling of this overwhelming process caused me to rush back to a self-perception I spoke about in my last post, that awesome, awkward moment of realizing I feel quiet, but realistically, I am… Not?

It came up again last night. I want to preface by saying that I had one of the best, most enjoyable, laugh-out-loud, safest-feeling evenings of my life. But I mentioned a few times, “I’m quiet” and my friend called me on it.

Aisha and I took the time to work through it at home, since the need to assert that I am quiet, continued growing inside of me away from the lights of the comedy stage. This is what we’ve broken it down to.

1.I am quiet. Unless I know you and feel safe around you. Then, you get to see me in all my dandy glory, because I don’t have a perma-filter and need to express myself enthusiastically at times. If you’re in my home, you will not see me as a quiet person. I get that now.
2.My sense of quiet comes from being nervous of fucking up. If you see all of me, and don’t like it, the moment will be ruined, and it will be my fault. *qualifier later
3.I worry I will overwhelm you if I take the ‘top off’ so I rarely divulge the entirety of my brain or personality. I also have a deep, intuitive recognition for people’s attention span when familiarizing themselves with someone new. (It’s short…)
4.People haven’t really been interested in what I’ve had to say, so I developed my natural ability to be a good listener, which is what I identify with positively, anyway.

Quick vulnerability check-in. I am saying this, feeling like I’m naked, strapped to a table, and you’re all looking at my bits.

Why the vulnerability? I hate false representation. I don’t think I can entirely convey the levels of distortion I’ve had to navigate, so I am not going to outline specifics, because they make me feel almost as dirty as bugs in the kitchen. I’ve figured out why, though. Thankfully. My emotions and brain processing have a negative or inverse correlation. The more emotion involved, the less I can think; the more my brain is involved, the less emotion present. Therefore, if I am hurt or confused by a misrepresentation, I can’t work through it. I’ve literally just figured this out.

This is a cool, brewing realization for me, so I want to share what I have started to do in these situations. I do some research. Admittedly, it’s the quick Boolean Google search that nets the quick results you’re looking for on a Sunday morning.

From my research, I am beginning to think my quiet, is a non-violent preparation tactic, like having an organized home. Like assessing your opponent, as they bop around you in the ring. Like looking over the exam calmly, before starting. Picture it, me in total safari mode- weird above-the-knee shorts, tall socks, and all my camp patches sewn onto my pack-

Like this guy…
Or… Probably this guy.

From what I’ve observed, most people may represent this mental preparation with a quick, deep breath, heavy exhale; a quick jump, or jiggle to shake themselves off, and say, “I’ve got this.” Or something to that effect. Mine? Usually looks more like that moment when the explorer stands straight amidst those spores, surveying the deep, dark, dank forest of concepts that are massing and trying to make them disappear into an apparition.

Terrible eh?

A few of my posts can give you and idea of how I process things (Battle Storms and if you really want to get into it… If its and ands). They also expose my continual preoccupation with how we develop our self-perceptions, since I am working through readjusting mine.

7 Ways was a great refresher on the common traps we fall into and why. Mine include the following:

  • Imposter syndrome: the amount of times I’ve come up as ‘NOT AS EXPECTED’ (to myself or others) makes me feel like I have something to worry about all the time.
    Funny aside here- working through gender stuff and sliding away from tougher images, realizing I am ending up a nothing-short-of-effeminate-masculine-nothing-like-it-oops-don’t-worry-still-soft-me is the perfect example of the, “Oops- Surprise!” I generally worry about. People are worried I may transition, and even if I do, I’d probably be more like what they’ve always been expecting than what I’ve produced. I hope I am conveying this properly because I am dying of laughter.
  • Minimize abilities: thankfully, my ego is growing, so I am doing this less often, but I would constantly underplay anything I am competent at.
  • Confirmation bias: this one is tricky. We intuitively search for ways that confirm what we think. Specifically, my biggest bias has been that I am loud, too much, awkward, and subconsciously, that I have never performed gender expectations properly. This adds up to a lot of self-talk couched in failure. As I said in Knowing What’s Right there is no blame here. I believe I sought out people who wanted me to be like this, despite knowing I’d fail. I know I hid most of how bad I was doing, from therapists even, so I got into a pattern of convincing myself I was okay as a loud, confident, overbearing person.
  • Denial: I’ve denied myself a lot over my life. Because I’m scared.

Reminding myself that these traps help explain my repeated fall into the palm of ‘my’ social quagmire, also remind me that self-perception is a dual creation. The perceptions of others, or meta-perceptions, continue to guide us our whole life as we run with whatever we are given to work with.

This article was the first place, where in black and white, it is acknowledged that emotions must be set aside or managed to have a clear gauge of perceptions versus reality. How are you at calming your emotions? Can you think and feel at the same level at the same time? My friend and I recently had a cool chat about neutral vs the known optimist and pessimist. I think most people should strive to be more neutral. My optimism disappoints me a lot, pessimism is heavy, so… Neutral seems like a win!

Part of the problem with my optimism, is it can cloud my ability to discern between thoughts and emotion, perceptions and the real me. Ready for it? Here is that *qualifier from before and a big thought.

I optimistically believe that if I have a 1-60% ‘starter’ pack for displaying myself to you, then if it doesn’t seem to be going well, I can quickly reign in any impending awkwardness. The reality is though, I approach you with 10-20%. Which means that… I realize if that 10% seems like too much, I will shut myself away.

My machete and I have a lot of work to do. Mainly learning that I need to walk away from you if my 10% is overwhelming, because I’ve barely begun to show you what I’ve got. On a good day, this song gets me places

I like this quote:

We are constantly thinking about what image to give others, about how they’re going to view us. What we don’t know is that many times people don’t see us how we think they do or how we would like them to.

This is a great reminder for everyone. I’ve stopped thinking about what image to give others but have not stopped being overly concerned with whether my image affects them. I like this though, because to me, it means even the people who are intentionally trying to falsely represent themselves, aren’t succeeding, somewhere. When you act with the intent to deceive you may win. You may. Which is what I was frustrated about in my last post; bad guys DO GET AHEAD. But not forever.

Let’s get back to this business of quiet. Because this is what I’m thinking. I think the reason I need to say I am quiet, is so that you’ll never assume I have more to offer. You won’t want to take, you won’t want to judge, you won’t surprise me with how much you were withholding until you’ve found out what I’ve got.

Sometimes, if we’re with manipulative or aggressive people that tend to make us submissive, we can end up giving off an image that doesn’t at all correspond with who we really are”

Have you watched this video? I re-found it on the Seeker and it had the same impact on me this time, as it did the first time. The manipulative or aggressive force doesn’t need to be someone. It can be ourselves. Our ingrained thoughts that go beyond consciousness. It isn’t even judgement, it’s more of an apathy, a contrived reality.

My perception: I need to be tougher, less vulnerable, or empathetic. I need to be an island.
My reality: I am soft, very soft. I am gentle. I hate confrontation, violence, arguing. I dislike injustice and bullies. I am someone who cries, freely and laughs loudly. I sing. I dance. I love to make others smile, to be the squish they want to sink into. I am soft. My lesson: I can be both.

Optimistically, I want to say I will one day beam with this softness. From finding a trans-masculine space, maturity, confidence, love, and acceptance. Having a partner as tough but gentle as Abomerino helps immensely. I feel entirely, completely safe with her – no matter how messy things seem to get.

Here is an ending story to leave you with a smile.

We went to Yuk Yuks last night and Aisha, sitting in the front and looking as lovely as ever, was immediately called upon for her name. She gave it, he asked what she did for work, and hilarious miscommunication over her employment (translation vs. transcription) ensued. The comic nailed it with a ‘Shit, I’ve pissed off China.” Then… Something unexpected (for me) happened. The next chick was called out- Crystal, was her name- and the entire room simultaneously equated her name with… A stripper. I laughed, caught up with the unworried joy of gentle, social, ribbing and BAM! Crystal calls out, “Well… HER name is Aisha” in that weird, mean girl, sing song thing.

Guys, I saw Crystal’s metaphorical fucking gloves hit the stage. I had no clue what was happening. My thoughts, in order: 1. Is that an insult? 2. Did she just literally divert attention from herself, which she had wanted, back to Aisha by trying to insult… Her name? 3. WHAT THE FUCK- SHE INSULTED AISHA.

Obviously, Aisha would have done whatever it took had things gotten real, but the comic quickly diffused the situation. Our friends, the room, and Aisha were howling so I was able to get back in on it. Tentatively.

At thirty-six years of age, I’d never experience that oh-shit-girl’s-about-to-get-real in person before. And my love was on the other side.

We had to work through it this morning lol. It was so uncomfortable for me, because I’m just a gentle giant. I am Ferdinand. And I’m starting to realize I no longer need to pretend I’m tough.

“Be like water, which is fluid & soft & yielding, as in time, water will overcome rock which is rigid & hard. Therefore, what is soft is strong.”

Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.

I think thought contradictions are such a funny part of being a cognitive human. For instance, I wanted to start this off by saying, “I feel like I’ve always been such a quiet person, keeping my thoughts to myself,” and then realized that, that is, in fact, a bold-faced lie.

The correct statement would be, I was a loud, angry, and misguided person who was quiet about what I really needed to say. The way I had been representing myself was, and still is, a rather alien concept of who I am.

For instance. During my college years, which I attended from 28-30 years of age, I was the ‘friend’ who would show up to a house party with a 2-4 for myself (2-4 being Canadian speak for a case of beer with 24 bottles in it). I would immediately dive into the case and as a guarantee, would end up dominating the party with a rant that would make Shakespeare envious. I don’t even remember what I was so angry about. But holy fuck was I angry.

I had to address that part of me. It was terrible. I was hurting. Now I recognize the number of things I was trying to deal with along the way, with no one else acknowledging it along with me. How could they, lol. That would be a super ignorant retro-active wish. It was no one else’s responsibility to help me wade through my muck, and I am grateful for both the outcome of my self-work and the age at which I seem to be really settling in. I’m proud of myself. I did it by my own merit. I addressed a lot of this in my post You May Have to Fight if you want more explanation.

Qualifying something about this is important to me. What I had the privilege of having, were people who didn’t confront me on things I am woefully mulling over today but did give me the space to be the version of whatever me they were related to.

While I am struggling, have struggled, and will probably always struggle with my own perceived failure of not being sister enough, daughter enough, female friend enough, and am trying to reconcile what other’s feelings will/were/have/are/must have been (trying, actually, to stay away from that one) there is one thing I have always had.

I have had a lot of time to consider, with situations to observe and build ideas on, how privileged I am that I have people who just rolled with whatever I had to offer. A lot of the time, they probably wished I’d had more, or taken less, or whatever. I know that there were times, and situations that were scary for my family, that I was also scared, and could have changed things. But when you don’t know how to do something THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HAVE IS PEOPLE THAT JUST STAND BY WHILE YOU FIGURE IT OUT.

Mine did.

I know people lost in their anger, lost in their jealousy, or negative self-talk, or judgments. I know people who are so deceptive and self-serving, but also work in care-based industries or purport to be a self-help guru. I am not putting them down. Without context, they are quite interesting to talk with, but in context, I only see a manipulating, two-faced, and unnerving person. Like, literally guys, I have watched one character in my recent personal story stalk three different people, hack accounts and do ‘swapped-car’ drive-by’s because they were hurting. I kind of judged, but just wanted them to get through their hurt. Now that I’m on the other side, I kind of wish I had called the cops or something then. I really don’t feel like I’m equipped to fight dirty, let alone as dirty as I’d need to get.

I am grateful to the point of feeling nauseous and worried that I didn’t have that person influencing younger me. I think I honestly would have died. Like, I literally wouldn’t have been mentally strong enough to deal with their level of… Ugh.

As with most of this big-thought-instances in my life, I have a happy, carefree comparison to help my brain accept the magnitude of this.

At thirty-six years of age, I have started watching Pokémon. It’s true. The analogy’s flowing from this frigging show are amazing, deep, and I can’t believe I judged it for so long (actually, I’ve only known about it for six years). Granted, I still think that pretending you are a poke master is… Well. Not my place to judge! We all have our thing.

Anyway, the concept of good and bad, evil, and light, all the diametrically opposed relationships we must conquer are I think… Somewhat incomprehensible. Conquering them may make you stronger, but something does break open in your mind. It’s why we watch it play out in cartoons, but I hate to say… despite good usually winning the fucking fight, it starts to get a little too hard when it comes at you around every corner.

As you all know, many of these posts are fueled by a situation with duder. This is no exception. He is also the only reason I am now a fan of Ash Ketchum. Big surprise.

God, I honestly don’t even know where to take this. I want to write about it. To find that sense of clarity I always get after writing. I just can’t. Let’s segue.

Part of why I was going to start this post with, “I feel like I’ve always been so quiet,” is because when I am confronted with confusing, aggressive, scary people, I… do something unique. I think? Please do not start thinking that what I am about to say next is a pretty or mystical event. I don’t secretly transform into a paranormal being. No. This is literally a self-preservation tactic that needed to occur for a fast-brained Enby.

After years of some form of bullying (no pity please), now, when a bully presents themselves, like the cop-training-pop-up-figure-in-the-gun-range-or-creepy-empty-house in my life I know that I get messy if I try and react in a big, aggressive or instinctual way. It’s super messy, and I lose control and feel like a crap bag after. So instead it’s like the bully’s intent is a bullet… Splattering my brain in slow motion, out a hole in my head, into a…

Projected image? Yup, welcome back reader’s, Jo’s brain at its finest.

Before I figured out how to deal with how overwhelming my emotional-cognitive functioning can be, this was a weird thing to experience. Like, people may call theirs, dissociation, or something, but it’s literally like a cartoon movie for me. Not scary, I’m present, I remember, and I am usually talking with someone at the time. My emotions slow, like an animal’s heartbeat in hibernation, or like this-

Thank god for that because before coming up with this self-monitoring, the typical result was like tomato sauce on a ceiling when the jar explodes, otherwise. The pop of the jar-top, the lick of wet you feel, on your nose or chin, but your eyes are closed so you don’t know what it is, the smell- exploding throughout the room. Opening your eyes, all you see is a hard to reach, stain-leaving mess. Now, my situations fold out in an old-timer white board of facts. Also, helpful since otherwise my brain is like a Rolodex on hyper-speed. It’s almost like something in me shrugged and realized it had to slow-speak like an adult to a confused child to my brain in these moments. “You okay there lil’baby? Hmm… You okay? Ready to move to the next thought?”

There is one thing I wish would figure itself out. That little whisper that is terrified of mean people. Of the ‘Scar’ and ‘Voldemort’ and ‘White Witch’ characters.

I was so scared about what’s happening, I called my mum and told her I was scared. Which made me realize, I am not often scared… Worried, anxious, not thinking straight, overwhelmed, or whatever. Not only am I not often scared, but when I am… I have a sinking feeling I don’t often share with others. To be fair, I don’t think I have been as scared of anything since my dad died. I only say this, because the way she responded helped me recognize the magnitude of me calling and saying, “I’m scared.”

I hadn’t wanted to call, because this is not a monster who is my imagination, or a shadow under my bed. This isn’t being afraid to walk down the stairs, thinking Freddy Kruger is there. No. This is the adult realization that rapists, narcissists, bullies, controlling people are in my backyard and are the type of people who are willing to hurt a kid, to put him at risk anyway… Just to get what they want. This is a type of scary my mum can’t protect me from by wrapping me up in a hug. These bad guys pop out of nowhere and yell “BOOGA-BOOGA-I’M-TAKING-THE-KID” even though… Well, they had their chance.

I feel naïve and ignorant. Stupid even that I continued giving them the benefit of the doubt. But I love this kid. Whether they consider me a parent to him or not (Not A-bomb) – linking to my last article Never Explain – I would hope that everyone was genuinely considering his best-life options.

Statistics show that courts often feel that Mothers are the ones best suited to care for their child (74% of children duder’s age in split families are in their mother’s sole care) and only 6.6% are with their fathers. Why? I have a ton of sociological theories, but I’m no expert.

Since I am experiencing some stress symptoms (rashes, so good guys, but at least it no longer manifests in stomach issues. I’m also sweating, and you know… getting choked up, hot and can’t breathe, so let’s wrap up).

Right now, I feel like a character who is no where near as ready as Ash but must battle this fucker unexpectedly:

Just so you know, in the episode I am thinking of, we find out he leaves his Charmander out in the rain, alone. He literally leaves him (apparently Pokémon are so loyal they won’t fucking move unless the trainer comes back!!!!) in the rain, for so long, his flame almost goes out, his heart breaking because he’s been abandoned. Duder has never seen me cry, but this frigging episode almost did it.

I can’t wrap my head around it. I’m trying. I keep touching it like I would a hot surface, testing the air around it to see if it’s safe. But they’ve come in and done the unthinkable, with no consideration of timeliness, communication, respect, or most importantly consideration of duderonomy’s desires. Which he’s communicated. To all of us.

I don’t know how to not feel fear right now.

I try and think that maybe we made them feel this way, feel threatened. And yet, all I know is that our original plan would have literally seen everyone having the same amount of access. So. How could they be afraid?

I’ll leave you with this short clip of Ash finding Ho-Oh because right now rainbows are in much needed supply.

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”  ― Michael J. Fox

Never explain―your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.

What drives our motivations?

What makes people change, or shift in their approaches, or offerings?

Where do you think a connection can get so lost, that the person you once knew so well, is now a stranger?

Beyond that, looking upwards from a smaller space, how do you prepare yourself, children, others if you’ve realized this, that trust is both the most important, and unreliable thing in the world?

We have been having conversations lately that, while they skim around the edge of a giant whirlpool of dramas and emotions, we somehow manage to stay on the easier, manageable side of things. The ‘somehow’ in managing to stay easy isn’t a, “I don’t know how we manage to pull this off,” but a cock of an eyebrow to the awesomeness of our connection and who we are as individuals. I am just sarcastically couching it in the naïve ‘somehow’ because I feel like I live on this giant, roomy buoy that is literally untippable, but people are trying their damndest.

So, as a (what I would consider to be fairly) rational person, dealing with a situation but getting down about it a bit too, I’m going to work through it with an analogy.

There is this happy red-fruit farmer. They sell all kinds of red fruit. Someone sees how amazing this content farmer is with their little red-fruit stand is and comes along with wise advice on how they once operated a corn stand. Acknowledging that corn and berries aren’t really all that different, the advice is considered by the farmer, and adopted into the berry stands operational procedures after modernization updates.

As these two are sitting around, a guy comes a long who sells mason jars, cooking utensils and pots. Before you know it, the craziest thing happens. The corn guy reveals he is a jam guy! He can make jam; the farmer has berries and this new guy has all the stuff to put it in! The farmer’s little business soon expands to become a trio of cool business and for a while this works out.

Unfortunately, as with many ventures, the polish on something new wears off. No matter what type of relationship it is, it’s frustrating because when you have partners, commitment levels should be the same, but usually differ. In this story, the utensils guy didn’t feel like he really needed to be around often, because he technically didn’t make jam, he provided the tools; since the others were there, making the jam and farming, they could sell his pots and stuff. He starts stopping in less often, soon, only coming out for the fun events and cashing a cheque otherwise. The corn guy, feeling weary and confused at their dislocation of having never been in charge of this berry world, like they thought, and honestly, not really ever liking berries, now feels fed up with doing ‘all the work’ and decides that- hey they only originally showed up to offer advice on how to make the berry business better (remember, they actually offered advice based on a model that worked for them, they didn’t make the business better). They disappear too.

Cutting to the chase, I want to know why people can’t just be done when shit is done, and not be assholes?

Carrying the analogy forwarded, only one thing has been permanently affected ‘negatively’ and that is the berries. The farmer tended them, kept things balanced and all was content. The balance wasn’t hard to maintain when the corn guy kicked around because overall, they were just company for everyone. The utensils guy, well. Shit. All he did was cause an in-house hot-pot that changed the flavour and growth pattern of the berries. They weren’t as bright; their pals being cooked down one building over. Even the jam is crystalizing, because it wasn’t an original piece. I hate that the corn guy is at a bar griping about their losses, the hurt done to them when they’d been there just to help. Everything was fine, until they walked out because they were too tired. Don’t even get me started on the anger and indignation of utensils guy over the losses he suffered in profits. His blind hatred of work and responsibility showing on the spittle spewing from his mouth as he stands in the berry patch stomping, because the jam isn’t making itself.

If you don’t want to be a part of a team, shift from mast to hull, nail to bow, ladder to rope- be whatever is required when required, then… Don’t. Team. Up.

Abusers are like this. I understand why they are this way (theoretically), because they get satisfaction and other feelings from putting people down and being completely in control. I am not saying corn and utensil people are abusive. But I am saying their need to come back around with anger, hostility and lies, when the berry farmer is just trying to get the crops growing again, is madness.

If this situation involved people or animals, we could maybe call the cops. Get intervention. But, really? Would that be a safe, sure option? Again, if this were something between people, lawyers would help, but I just want to say, do you really want to pay to have the conversations had, in front of people that will see, that things should have been left as is? Why, isn’t there just trust and confidence.

The corn and utility guy never feel good, eh? Do you know that? Their rage and confusion and victim hood aren’t a comfortable feeling. Unless you are the berry guy- you aren’t anybody good, unless you make different choices (corn people) or… Be apart of the team (utensils). Berry farmer isn’t comfortable. They are hurt, question their worth and the viability of their business. They are worried about their berries, once so bright and juicy. They feel abandoned, but, understand. So, why is this understanding sucked up by the other two, and turned into a breath stealing vortex of negativity?

Do you see what I mean? Why in gods name are corn and utensil coming back round with anything to say? They left. One was blatantly passing the buck, lazy and self serving. The other had every reason to retire. They’d already worked a full life. But… When they aren’t getting blang-blang from the jam, then suddenly…

Do you see what I mean?

This is like the person who calls to check in on your confidence about a huge decision, AFTER it’s been made.

“Oh, wow… That ring, you said yes, wow.”

“I know! I love it! Don’t you like it?”

“Yeah, the ring- wow. The ring is beautiful, but… Your boyfriend is a deadbeat.”

Whoa… Nelly.

Think about the questioning of teens career choices and the, “Oh that- God, you don’t want to do that.” That phrase, coming from a selfish place, is so confident coming from a trustworthy person, that I bet 78% of people would drop it. Think, well shit. If they’ve done it and it sucked, I guess I’ll cut my losses.

Has that happened to you?

It did to me, as a kid in a funny way. I am the career example, although thankfully I was the only one dissuading myself. First, I wanted to be an actress with forty-nine children (then, oh my god; the diapers). Then, a bus driver (then, oh my god; screaming kids and early mornings), then, a cafeteria mayor (wtf- realized this isn’t real), and finally, a marine biologist. My lovely, ever helpful dad looked at me and said, “Ha, by the time you are old enough, there’ll be no fish in the sea.”

I had two choices here: laugh back and say, well I’ll study water or- what I did. Because, at thirteen, and my father being my number one authority on life-things, and his absolute certainty there’d be no fish seemed so convincing that I should cut my loses. So, I dropped out of all my sciences over the next year.

I am a passionate, driven and confident person. My fight, though, is lacking. I would rather disappear then explain to someone why I’ve decided something. Namely because I am the lucky duck who’s had many naysayers, with selfish intent, weigh in on my life.

Thankfully, over years of blunders I know I can count on my family to be honest with me. That is important, because that’s what I need. I trust myself. And I am confident in who I chose to have with me. These are the three things I wish I could teach any person that relates to the berry farmer more often than the corn guy, or… The utensils guy.

Trust yourself; chose your people confidently, for their honesty and hopefully, loyalty.

Part of the problem is that these situations of “come-back,” I’ll call them, take so much mental restructuring for the berry farmer. They are typically the type of person who would feel bad and consider how they may have hurt the other party, apologize and owe up to their part, and then hope it’s done.

If someone doesn’t release them then, and instead uses that kindness as a sinkhole for their other shit that isn’t so easily resolved, everyone gets hurt.

Everyone. Guys, everyone gets hurt when these things aren’t dealt with. Sometimes you can’t walk away from the come-backs. Sometimes, you just have to fortify yourself and be able to move with the waves that bash around you. I have always managed to extricate myself from these situations, come hell or high-water. I’ll repeat, it does mean I have been lonely, a lot. But I like being alone more than I like feeling like everything I believe in is compromised by someone else’s misguided weigh-ins.

“Save your skin from the corrosive acids from the mouths of toxic people. Someone who just helped you to speak evil about another person can later help another person to speak evil about you.” 
― Israelmore Ayivor

“If you truly want to be respected by people you love, you must prove to them that you can survive without them.” –

Michael Bassey Johnson

Happy long weekend to our Canadian readers, and regular ol’ beautiful Sunday to the rest of you. I have not had the motivation to write for a while. The last mini post I did was an effort in self-dedication and an attempt to clear my mind of things that were swirling around in there. Since All things, a lot has happened. I am sure if you’ve read it, you could see there was a lot going on before then too.

What I want to explore today are the cruel people you stumble across who are supposed to be in your camp. The people who, as the days go on, have their mask eaten away by the sun, as their ‘moves’ are unable to take affect like they used to. The person I am thinking about, once getting to know the other side of their bright, always smiling, good-time personality, has reminded me of the Queen of Hearts. A sole-focused individual whose motivations have always seemed sinister. I won’t go into the details but suffice to say I watched them storm over things I consider foundational to be a good person and had to keep my mouth shut.

I can’t give you details. Not because the person who would be affected matters any longer. Nor because it is someone in my loves’ camp, though it is. I don’t want to give you the details, because I am embarrassed that it took me so long to really, truly, see them for what they are.

May is an interesting month to me. As a Canadian it is a time filled with fluctuating feelings on weather, waking up one day, able to wear shorts, the next, the toque is back on. As a farmer, it is a glorious month; fraught with worry over certain aspects of growing, but overall a beautiful time of blossoming. I’ve noticed this year there has been a lot more… In focus. We have sharp-shinned hawks nesting in a tree in our backyard, which has been an interesting thing to watch as a family who is doing its damndest to build a nest as well. There is also a giant Cooper’s Hawk who has started swinging around, baring his chest to us in the mornings. Peoples’ motivations have also been in shaper focus.

As the birds awaken and dust off the winter, so do the people. Between allergies and colds; S.A.D and just general grumpiness at living in fifteen hours of darkness a day for eight months, people just come out of winter… Different.

This person though… It now feels like they had been lurking, working out new patterns of destruction while we tried to get through Aisha’s back (still not healed, in fact we may be going back to the Doc on Wednesday it’s gotten so bad again), duder’s school bumps, finding and buying a house, and all we’ve tried to keep you up-to-date on, waiting for a chance to cut us down.

I find it interesting that in the threads of my recent posts there has been an undercurrent of ‘hope,’ of ‘trust’ or ‘connections’ and what I am about to tell you combines all of them, and why they make me wary. Have you ever been in a situation where you are othered, obviously or not, for a time, and then suddenly, it becomes more obvious? Like, that growing awareness that… Whoa, man… I don’t think I’m welcome here. And the next thing you know, the proverbial fist is crashing through the darkness and landing square on your face? I am very aware of these moments; I’ve had a lot. My expressed thanks in previous posts at my ability to now adapt to them are honest. It’s just that… Well guys, I was sucker punched.

Six days before my birthday, which is already a hard day for me, I find out that duder’s g-ma, once a friend of mine and A-bomb’s mother, whose “opinion, though not popular” is that I am not to be considered as a parent. In fact, looking back, both Aisha and I can see that she has felt this way, from day one. It could be due to our coming together circumstances; it could be because her life blew up at the same time Aisha and I found each other. I don’t know. All I know is, she’s lied to my face for about two years, now. She pretended to be my friend, to respect my opinion – nay, sought it out – during our hours in the hospital together waiting for Aisha. But all because I am just a way to manipulate the ones she truly cares about.

You see, friends, the thing about me is, I see people through rose colored glasses, if I am certain I should trust them. I have no idea, honestly, where the certainty has ever come from, considering I am usually wrong. But she was a coworker, then a friend, then a confidant, then… My in-law? So why would I not trust her?

I guess the part that I am still working through is the heartbreak I felt. Sunday, after reading her wildly off-base, out of nowhere text to Aisha something crumpled in me. We talked to duderonomy about the safe, and relative points, for clarification and then let it go. Monday morning, I woke up and that crumple had turned into a fold. Being with him, in whatever capacity that was (friend was my word for a long time, until he called me his stepparent and told me he loved me), felt like the first natural thing I had ever done. Literally. There were bumps and moments where I needed to jump onto Aisha for safety, but our connection was amazing from the get-go. We made each other feel safe, and happy. Somewhere over the past two years, I have literally put his every need above my own- and that somewhere wasn’t recently. As Monday moved into Tuesday, I awoke with this inability to even make my lungs work. I was suffocating.

Having a partner who is energetically inclined is amazing, no matter what the reason. As I fell apart, my head in her lap, crying, literally feeling my heart breaking, there was something else knitting in my back. I could feel it, against my spine- this weird, electric thing. Aisha had begun to rub my back with her palm, and when she neared this bundle it physically hurt me. Like, I felt a shock race down my spine. What happened next is fairly hippy-dippy and mystical, but apparently as Aisha moved her hand away from the spot (the feelings having only caused me milliseconds of discomfort) she said she saw a ‘sticky’ or ‘tacky’ like blackness come out of me, trying to attach to her. Thank god she has a calm head eh? I’d probably have lost my shit, but then again… I’m wondering how much she hasn’t seen. I wasn’t aware any of this had happened. All I knew was that the darkness that had slowly invaded my vision over the past two days slowly lightened, and my breathing began to regulate. Finally, it felt like I could maybe stop crying.

I can’t begin to express thanks to Aisha for whatever the fuck that was. For those of you who don’t know, the chakra related to self-esteem is the third chakra, or the solar plexus, which was where all that went down. I’m fairly certain the combination or depth of hurt, mixed with Aisha’s amazing intentions shifted something (wonderfully) permanent inside me. Within hours I was feeling calmer, more collected than I had in a long time. The problem is, I am just… Not happy yet. It’s coming, I can feel it around a corner. I can even hear its laughter ghosting down the halls.

The problem is that I am just tired of every one seeming to have a big, bad impression of someone or something else, in this case the number of people who can not seem to see that we are a good team, that this love should have ended already if it weren’t meant to be. I am tired of the loud-mouthed nobodies who spend time hating or judging, and I especially hate how affected I can get. Weariness isn’t even a word for the lack of surprise I felt, but the shock of reality sliding into place was old, uninspired. An, I should have known.

I am tired of people hurting us.

This move (I’ve already packed the unused items, the winter items, and as many everyday items as I can sneak into boxes) doesn’t feel like a move. I think because while, like many others, we are moving in the hopes of better things, there are enough tarnished memories to make it easy for us, we also know that this one won’t feel… Alien. Even moving from the apartment to this beautiful house came with shocks. We may not know our street, or neighbors, but if it is too much, we now have people that we can only get to via phone momentarily.

I don’t feel heavy. I hope the drama we experience there is brand-spanking new. I hope it has little to no ties to the drama we are leaving here.

I felt my heart break like that, only one other time. I cried for eight-hours straight, grieving the loss of someone who wasn’t choosing me. I remember the desolate feeling, the emptiness I felt. Being told you do not deserve to be called a parent is a cruel thing to say. There are still huge parts of me that don’t want to be duder’s parent, but I am. I literally check all boxes, except the ‘blood-related’ one.

We can choose our families, our friends, and the inner voice we build for ourselves. We can choose positive ones, ones that motivate us and steer us in directions that lead to better, and brighter things. Sometimes, our choices are imposed upon us, and don’t seem fair. The quiet between Aisha and I was interminable this week. I know she adores my relationship with the broster. She wouldn’t be here if she didn’t. I know she respects my decisions and commitment to our co-parenting. But the hurt her parent caused… That is one we had to deal with separately. And I’m glad we can, honestly. I’m glad we have the trust and foundation needed to go to the places we needed to go. Because today, I can look at her, and feel my heart-trust again. Not that I hadn’t throughout the week, but her seeing me that weak, that vulnerable to someone I am trying to support her in standing up to, well… It’s embarrassing. And it just fucking hurt. And I was shocked.

It also makes me want to just put a gentle reminder out there to you all. Whether you are in our queer international family, my NB family, or just a decent fucking human being that takes the time to read all this, I just want to remind you that people are supposed to be good. Make you feel good, and welcome, especially in your home.

If they don’t have permission to be there, kick them out.

Sincerely,

Jo

All things are ready, if our mind be so.

― William Shakespeare, Henry V

I think it is appropriate, starting this post with a quote from Shakespeare. We are, after all, moving to a town dedicated in part, to his honor. I’ll take a moment to confess that one of my aims in moving home is to attend more theatre productions. I want to be able to reference his works, and the works of others here, as comfortably as I do other things. At this time, I appreciate his comedies, and always have; the romances took a while, only because their slow pace… Well, it seemed like everybody spent three scenes questioning the air; what, oh what in the world should they do, while the object of their affection is… literally sitting right behind them.

As I’m heading for forty, I’d like to get to know his tragedies, since I know I will probably never take in the histories. I think I could probably gain perspective if I sat through Coriolanus, or Titus. Hamlet probably deserves a revisit as well as Macbeth. I did not take the opportunity to get to know Shakespeare during my younger years, having needed time to live in fiction, fairytales, and fantasy. My mind was just too… something, for Shakespeare.

Moving on, I would like to say I am in complete agreement with him on the above statement. As you well know, I like considering situations from every angle I can find; I often get into a rant and then completely deflate myself with a solid opposing argument for the other side. I have just found that this prepares me in ways I can’t even express.

It goes beyond boundary establishment and maintenance. A longer quote I like to help highlight what I mean is:

“Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst-case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves’ factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.”
Randy Pausch

I like that Pausch states this is his pattern, even though he is a great optimist. I just think that we can be optimists living this way, because there’s a plan for what worries me. Even if I don’t have a complete plan, acknowledging the potential removes the option to be caught unaware.

There are minor and unbelievably major motivations for this post. The minor ones are what I will touch on today, as a way of organizing my brain.

I recently had the good fortune of line editing a novel, soon to (hopefully!) be published in Canada called, The Minimalist: Who is Not in Favor of Minimalism, and I was amazed to find out that I, too, am a minimalist. I think my minimalistic creed came from three factors: a) I have moved a lot, thus divesting myself naturally of things that would increase the moving effort b) I have never really been financially secure and c) there is less disappointment when ‘things’ don’t mean anything.

Touching on the third point for a moment, things do have value to me. There are some material items that I would be truly upset over loosing, but outside of my own ‘loses’ I have known two people to lose everything to a fire, and far too many more who have nothing they want to begin with. On those two extremes, the work I’ve watched the people do on the affect, has left me with almost no choice but to get there before it happens to me.

My sis and I were robbed when we lived in Toronto. It was within the first year of us living together on the main floor apartment of an 8-plex on a busy Toronto corner. They entered through our bathroom window (well hidden in a very accessible, also well hidden, old school fire escape) creepily organizing all our bathroom things outside on my smoking table in precise, organized lines. Being on the poorer end of life, we literally had nothing to give them except my sister’s tip-money she hoarded in her bedside table. They found that, and nothing else, when they completely tossed our rooms. At the time, I had material things I liked, and a lot of them were ruined, further devaluing their worth (on top of not being stolen lol). The feeling that incident left us with was… hollow. The violation so cerebral, and not… I don’t know, like they came in and ransacked our place, but we were safe, and my sister lost maybe $250. But opening the door for months afterwards involved loudly banging before loudly working the key in the lock and shoving the door open as I jumped back as far as possible (an astounding half-foot, I’m sure).

Anyway, taking life lessons to the extreme, if I were now broken into (knocking on wood), I would be confident in knowing they received no satisfaction. If they ruined my stuff, well, I have insurance! The violation would still be felt, I am sure. But, having felt it before, I wouldn’t be shocked and shock is the thing I hate most, I think.

Do you feel this? How old are you, and if you do feel this way, how did you come by it? I recognize that my experiences have resulted in me being a minimalist, and that makes organizing my life easier, for me. Moving, (not to belabor the example) is another area where I am prepared. We move in a month and a half and I’ve booked the movers, our place (I think) is rented, I will be calling services next week which means… when moving day arrives, all I will have to manage is my people and the people moving us. Pretty cool, no?

The value of giving yourself the room to go deep, and like Pausch says, explore the ‘eaten by wolves’ factor’ would probably surprise you at how comfortable you ultimately, end up being.

Wanting to stay light-hearted and quick, I want to end this on a linguistic note. Another means of being prepared is using language that accurately relays what you want to say. Working through ‘zones’ lately, I have reacquainted myself with the myriad of potential emotions a person could be feeling in combination. Knowing the vast lexicon available to you can also help pave your path of preparedness. I was once humiliated by a professor, but my fault entirely. During my cocky, early-twenties I was in a philosophy class. The prof asked, “what do you need to make fire?” Immediately I shouted out… “Wood!” Feeling pretty fucking smug at my speed, my camping days rushing back and inflating me with confidence. I can’t remember their exact response, but it was essentially, preparing to go out in the rain with an umbrella is like just needing wood,” turning away, thinking I would have learned my lesson at this point. I… a true stubborn bull continued, “IRREGARDLESS, you said ‘what do you need to make fire, and wood is needed.’” In sum, they turned around and asked me a series of scenario-based questions in which a fire took place, without wood anywhere to be seen; an oil spill catching fire on water, a brick house burning to the ground, tar pits, plastic. It was one of the most educational moments of my life folks.

Be prepared. Consider a few different things before charging ahead. It will help you be more confident and believable in the end.

DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, UNTIL YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
unknown.

You may have to fight a battle more than once

Margaret Thatcher

Hello again. Today I am reflecting on age, and how it is showing itself in new ways – dare I say, giving me a moderately refined quality? Unfortunately, there is a disjunct occurring; the situations I’ve grasped the changes in are ones that are almost as old as me. Thus, what I have come to expect myself to do, is no longer a guarantee. Which is interesting when your successful interactions are based on knowing how to navigate ‘you’ in relation to others.

Side note: I would like to say again; my interactions are so overwhelming sometimes. I try to be my prepared normal for acquaintances, or friends and people who aren’t… all in. Because when I am balls to the walls, I can be a lot to handle. Teams, for instances, are hard. When planning to join one, I literally allocate the day we play, and a few hours on either side of the game for that event. I’ve experienced two instances in my life where that allocation grew, other things became included in the relationships, and overall it was OK. But if I don’t prepare for that potential, I don’t know what to do. Then, things change (season, schedule, location) and I adapt to those changes. But then sometimes, I find myself face-to-face with a misinterpretation so grand, and literally incomprehensible to me until hours later, that I inevitably mess up. I used to try and recover these moments; now I put them down.

Continued Side note: I just had a realization talking with Aisha – I have described what I am willing to do to move forward with people (friends, family, duder, etc.), but I can finally, succinctly say what is required from ‘you’ for the success to be guaranteed; don’t argue with me about a point, when I don’t argue with you. Do you know what I mean? For instance, Aisha lived in a naturally cluttered environment when we met. I had learned by now not to come at her, force her to change, berate her, or ignore the fact that this is an absolute need. So, I explained my needs, what would work as a ‘messy’ zone (there were several, actually) and that I would appreciate her considering it. Being the amazing brain, she is, she didn’t resist these requests, in her space no less. She thought about it. She considered, essentially, if her messy habit overruling my need to be clean and organized, especially when I was willing to take it upon myself to maintain it, was fair. Eventually, by continuing to consider whether certain habits were beneficial to her (because, ultimately, she could see why I needed things clean and organized: it functions better) or not, her habits have changed, a lot.    

Her, and my changes are good. For my part, ones I have honestly worked towards. Signs I’ve divested myself of my anger seem to be splaying all over the place. The anger that consumed me for so long is almost non-existent. Situations that would have had me bubblin’ and brewing, now inspire a tiger-like yawn; moderate interest, but the ‘it’s not my problem’ has become engrained in my very muscles. I will acknowledge that this does not mean the feeling of disruption, of confusion, or of indignation are not still present. I am not a monk – I still have work to do. But that anger was dirty, vile and cruel.

My need to be heard still surges and settles, in an invisible, tsunami-like way. This has been a fun one to watch; raising and eight-year-old, with someone ten years younger than me, who sometimes seems fifty years older than my friends’ (a year younger than me) partner/co-parent (a year older than me), and hearing the differences and similarities in the advice handed down by all our parents. These voices are all at such different stages, asking for different things, though all technically focused on the same subject. My voice feels like it has patience now, like a wind that has changed its course. I used to feel it billowing in my lungs, my throat to small, constricting the words and feelings, causing an inward suffocation. Now, it stirs in my brain, having moved its location so that it’s release is possible. When I can and do speak, I feel like it carries more weight, like a strong west wind.

When I feel overwhelmed in a space that is not mine, I have found a new, quiet spot, where I can cross my legs and invite the ‘angst’ to sit so we can find a way to keep the ignition from occurring. That poise feels like the ghost of a ‘jo’ past, having come to inhabit my subconscious and get us the rest of the way through this life.

Despite these changes, I have arrived at a spot where I woke up and my mind was back in that twenty-one-year-old headspace, a scary place, without my knowing. I hadn’t earmarked the changes my maturation would cause in my guidebook. I felt so out of sorts. I didn’t know me, and my guidebook seemed to have a water mark blurring the words.

Sometimes I feel so distant from people, like I am floating away without this safety; like if I don’t tether, I will disappear. Sometimes I can’t even feel my heart beat I get so quiet. What’s happened is something changed, that is hard to describe but a ‘for instance’ includes not realizing how really honest thoughts would come slamming into place with a finality I am not ready for, no more pleadin’ the fifth.

Where people complain about x, I had already divested that thought and owned the concept of y, but now… I feel like I am at z. Y was already a lonely place. I do welcome the honesty, the solid understanding of where the players stand, and… the benefits I can see coming. But sometimes realizing things about your tribe, or community, or culture is hard, especially when you’ve committed to your part.  

The biggest change is that regardless of what I am battling, whether I have had time to process in my normal way or not, I am somehow, unassisted, already coming up.

My call-to-human-connection has about two speed dials now, discluding my family. This is a momentary pause I think, because of what is possible when we move – frankly, the magnitude gloriously overwhelming. Not that the list ever really consisted of more than eight or so, but the number’s decline has been such a natural event.

With this change though, I no longer have the ability (or want?) to hyper-focus on friends, but now I take in what feels like millions of strangers who are dealing with their balance to understand a growing-duder, Abomb, and me and whoever else is all-in with us. I watch these strangers strive for time, relationships, self-care, quiet time, ability to express themselves. When my brain pans-out, my view can not help but consider how having to learn to move away from what oppresses you is so counterintuitive to us, because our oppressor wears the sneakiest mask yet. Not a sheep, or a granny; but people who are ‘making this province great again’ by literally destroying it with such speed, such thoroughness and planning that my paranoia is cranked to ten.

Balance, whatever that means to you, seems so tenuous to me. What has helped me feel confident balance exists, albeit in flux, even while my world is changing, is watching A-bomb with duderonomy in the evenings. From the moment I joined their nightly routine. While he and I have a thing, a connection with communication, what I watched tonight was awesome. A mother’s ability to restore balance, to help lay the groundwork for understanding our own balance is an incredible gift, and, an incredible sight.  

Balance comes from knowing you are good, just as you are. But, knowing something innately hard. If you are neurotypical you may often feel like you are ‘a lot’ to handle. If you are expressing a personhood others contest, you probably feel like ‘a lot’ to handle. If you have emotions, you may honestly, feel like you are ‘a lot’ to handle. If you just feel lonely, you too, probably feel like too much. But we aren’t.

This is from an Instagram account I follow, ftm pride, and was a share from @snailords account. It has been a long time since these feelings have come up, but… I am moving back home. I am interacting with family in significant ways. Reconnecting with old friends. There is change, big change, looming. Things are going to be different, new boundaries agreed upon, old boundaries reviewed.

For instance, my BSLF has been amazing during our ridiculously non-stressful week of house hunting. Providing coffee, hosting us for dinner, providing a space the child to run free for a minute. We can balance the old and new realities, and I trust her to accept my baggage, as I do hers. She and I had a conversation today where she really did an amazing job at using neutral pronouns, or my name, in reference to me. I love her because she made sure to pause the conversation in order to receive praise on her (one day) of amazing effort. The struggle, the balance, is trying to reconcile having to deal with the shared moment of joy being unable to withstand the weight of hearing my mum and realtors call me she (x20 in a forty minute conversation), of getting in the headspace of being a MOH (Maid of Honor to my butches who – like me – did not know wtf that meant) who doesn’t wear a dress, of getting my period, or, knowing that when I sat with her, at their table in the two hours we were there on the weekend, she and her fiancé explicitly referred to me as she/her sixty.seven.times. Essentially every 1.79 minutes.  

Because of who I am, I put that back on the shelf, because I am so proud of the effort made. And, I remember that this my choice, and has been a quiet, private development. So, I celebrate that phone conversation, and salute patience.

These things, while important, aren’t necessarily things I understand. So, I find myself missing the conversations I used to have with someone. My ghost-of-past-me is whispering patience, whispering they’re coming, but I feel like I went through the wardrobe and lost the door to their side. I need the connection with this someone, I don’t know how to get it.

I have a calm relationship with responsibility, because I had to learn to like it. I don’t love being a law or rule abiding, good Samaritan all the time. In fact, there are days where I wish I could be a curmudgeon, walking around and just being whatever I need to be, and excessively so. But that’s not me. I’d rather cover my ass then get in trouble, but the lengths I seem to have gone to assure that – for the most part – seem overprepared, even for me.

For instance, since the last post, what, a week ago? We not only got over the loss of ‘losing’ the house we wanted, but found the best, most amazing house possible one week later. I accepted the responsibility for how this would flow, when the idea was conceived. I prepared and now, signed, sealed, deposit down – it’s ours. Very few bumps; emotional, mental, generational, or otherwise. Literally, so smooth, and now all those celebrating, are doing so with quiet, confidence, and gentle joy. It’s lovely.

I have simultaneously been dealing with serious dysphoria in the last three weeks. I thought I could walk a line – people who ‘don’t need to know’ and people who do. That sadly, does not seem possible. So, I have done something I never do – I pushed the thought away. I am not in a place where I can take that time, to prepare, coach, open, and be vulnerable to someone who is so… unaware of the burgeoning situation that the anger, sadness and confusion I’d have to filter for them, seems like too much, right now.

Age has allowed that. It hurts a bit, being so good at calmly putting my needs aside. And please know I am not saying this to sound like a martyr. I can be very needed. Many, many needs are still being met, but I can rant, and need a trillion reassurances; I have been in scary places because of my anger, need to be heard, need to be recognized. I am thirty-six years old. I am trying to say; I am learning to appropriately prioritize everyone’s issues as well as mine.

Age has smoothed my edges, the process leaving me a bit weary. I heard this weariness in someone else’s voice. On the CBC the other day, the reporter was speaking with someone about the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. I can’t find the link, although, I now know I can go through and read everything that happened on the CBC in a day!! Which is besides the point – the point is the guest was asked how they felt about seeing a burkini on the cover of S.I. Their indignation was minimal, but the sentiment was, this is my fucking normal, how mind-blowing can it be. I should tell you that this person was Muslim, highly educated, a part of the fashion world, and Canadian. I completely understood why that was her reaction.

Being asked, ‘is your normal being portrayed in an appropriately mind-blowing way to someone else’ is so immediately othering, it takes your breath away. I said to Aisha, it would have been refreshing to hear what her thoughts on the socio-religious and socio-political impacts of the issue could be.

Being forced to reconcile that your normal is mind-blowing to others is why phone calls to ancient friends can be hard.

Reconciling how insulting it is when you, in whatever space you take up, are being judged by someone who… is just… I don’t know, not good. I feel so insulted when I realize I am worried when I am out with my family, that my son will have to see the hate I receive because our life is mind-blowing enough to cause someone to spout hate, or point, or stare. I used to feel suffocated by the number of people, who for whatever reason, wouldn’t or couldn’t accept me; my age, my weight, sexuality, gender, hair, clothing, job or friend choice, everything has always felt… unbalanced and judged.  

There are days where this is still a necessity. Less so, now that I have the body I always saw in the mirror.

I have realized that the disjunct between my self-perceived confidence and intellectual value, or, general social value and how others take me in is what I now need age to soften. When these perceptions are off, it vibrates into my very vulnerable places.

My strength is like a net. Sturdy enough to hold me together, but well, when full some fish escape. When I say this, I mean: defending my decision to move, my ability to chose a house, know the important details (I am a property manager…), figure out a mortgage estimate, remember the routes and appointments, or groceries for that matter and continue to be confident in summa, I can not also manage my gender, or other insecurities that are routed in my normal being so different.

The worst part of this reality is, when we stay ignorant, and allow others to also, the level of insult people endure quietly because they are forced to see themselves as ‘lesser,’ their normal obscene, results in abject worthlessness. From one end, I suppose we could say that “what I do affects so few people, and they are close friends.” That is true. But, on the other side, you really don’t know. You don’t know the depths people are swimming in.

I want to share something with you, my favorite IG account @creating_thomas. He posted this beautiful piece the other day, and it captures the heart of someone who’s normal to some may be mind-blowing, who most of the world may hate, if they new his ‘secrets.’ I love his words, and pictures – he is a daily source of beauty in my world. I hope you enjoy.

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

Frederick Douglass

Oh, holiday Monday. I remember your yester-years, those casual carefree days, hitting the snooze button and drinking an extra pot of coffee. I remember you from our childhood days, those teens years, early twenties – all the way up to last year, really. Fond memories for sure and, you know, to be fair, I turned the table a bit and stopped working for someone else, so you may be confused. An ordinary Monday sometimes feels like you’ve made a drop-in visit, and then… work knocks on Easter. It’s strange, I know.

So, I am very grateful for the normalcy of boy-yo running home on this beautiful, warm, sun-filled evening. He’s now ensconced in the arms of his ma, who is perfectly portraying five or so characters from The World of Norm. I love watching them in these moments. The good and tough evenings, the laughing, cuddling, even the frustrated cries. I love watching the light move over their faces from the kitchen window. Dude’s eyes are drooping, but he’s obviously reading along silently, word-for-word but his resistance to sleep is not as strong today.

As you know from Aisha’s post, This Morning’s Sunrise, we had an eventful weekend. My mum’s four-day foray was a whirlwind. We had duderonomy all week AND weekend, which was amazing, and in my mind, why I had 50% less stress than if he had been away. We may have found a house while hunting. But I’m far too superstitious to share those details.

What I want to work through here pings close to what Aisha is starting to poke at when she says,

“I’m constantly learning about the many ways we, as people, function and relate to each other and how quickly that unity can turn to disconnect, even if only caused by something as subjective as our perception of the situation or the people involved.”

Aisha
AQFTO

This concept of unity and disconnect, especially regarding family, is one I have grappled with for as long as I can remember. To save you the details, just know that this visit had a mature (I thought) and unique set of parameters I was curious to explore, after years of trying other style combinations. One of them being my more upfront approach to my daily life, as you may know. Specifically, my intention towards being a better and more honest person, ability to express needs, allowances, boundaries, and all that. But that means things have shifted in my relationships with people I don’t connect with daily, which in my exaggerated brain have now become something that I am convinced seems like a clandestine undertaking on my part.

A specific example of a shift is that I am on the autobahn of raising a tiny, intelligent human – so things move fast. In general, it means my ‘needs’ in interacting have massively shifted. Broadly, my life had always been about adults, in whatever stage they were at. Independent, usually intelligent, autonomous adults. Now my life is about both adults and kids who are all thinking, learning, growing, shifting, and expanding together until our time evolves to look like what our grandparents and parents are (maybe) now enjoying with each other. Translated, I mean that until duder is thirty or so, we three are strapped into this ride together until he decides to take the “I’m autonomous now” exit.

So, we (thankfully) now have adult-friends, kid-friends, friend-friends slowly stacking onto side a. On side b… well, let’s just say that my biannual family adventures are resulting in tectonic-like shifts because all our needs are now at completely different stages. My needs, while I don’t understand the breadth, have changed. I don’t know how to explain what they look like or where they begin and end. I don’t know if they are about me, outwards; or about outwards into me. I don’t know if they are permanent, or maybe, the ground will swell, and they will shift back. All I know is that for the most part things feel different.

Reflecting on this, and consequently the stress I experience when hosting visitors, these shifts seem fated, and in many instances potentially anticipated by others. Parents acknowledge when their children become parents, and roles shift, making space for the new people. Similarly, as friends age and begin to date ‘outsiders,’ the original group expands, bringing in a transient demographic. This is natural.

I would say, it’s not so natural for me. I don’t think it has occurred to my ma yet, either. So, I become a stress-bag. No, joke. In fact, in moments of insecurity I genuinely believe my mum will give up on visiting for a while. My discomfort during her visits used to be explosive (talk about mental health cues). I would cry the whole visit, looking for assurances and stability there was no way she could provide. I would hate leaving or have a meltdown if we started discussing something I wasn’t prepared for. What used to make it work though, was that we could sit and work through the conversation, she was patient about my ‘growth.’ We saw eye to eye enough that we could commiserate over how similar we perceived an issue and come up with grand plans for fixing it. We have amazing plans for educational reform, social services, medical, political overhauls – you name it, we got it. We just never looked at ourselves.

Then, my maturation and experience of divergent realities from most of my kin, piled on top of the pile and things got fuzzy. The generational, and time, gap finally made a mark on us. She said it enough this weekend, so I’ll say it here. My mum got old; my stress became ingrained and apparent.

I want to go back to the concept of responsibility versus predetermined outcomes or unity versus disconnect. My mother showing up, in grandma mode was awesome, but every other moment she excused something because she is now old, instigated a shift. Last night, we heard running around upstairs. I was exhausted, had to be up early again, for a drive, again, and smiled wearily at what I thought I may find on the last night my mum was here. Well, my eight-year-old was responsibly re-tucking himself in (night-light, sound-maker, stuffies in formation), while my mother was laying in bed confused about the alarm on her mobile phone and uncertain about waking up on time. I tucked two people in. Then went to bed.

I am solid with this transition. I have known my whole life mum would come to me in her geriatric years. I am grateful I can give back, a small token for the layers of (perceived or otherwise) failure and success on my part. One of the things I have had time to do in preparation, is learn how to make compromises, how to people manage – on my good days. I maybe don’t do it well, because honestly, I only ever have one or two other people close to me at any given time. But also, boundaries and compromises aren’t necessarily comfortable, and when I attempt to create them for everyone, so we all get some of what we need, it can get frazzled.

Compromise can be broadly defined so I’ll give some examples. One. Dude-magoog has trouble sleeping some nights. The reasons are between us but suffice to say we’ve had to do a lot of compromising on check-ins, time he goes to bed, pre-bed routine, and after weeks of trying to be firm, a lightbulb went off. I want to preface this by saying I am not a great bedtime parent. I am ready for him to go to bed, and don’t really get the multiple-check-in-after-the-first-one requests. But, because of where he’s at, he thinks they’re great. The problem is he stays up waiting and waiting and waiting and then is up all night. Me being the final-face before sleep was a situation that sprang up and surprised us all. So, his needs versus my, ‘just go to bed’ mentality, had to be quickly reconciled so the scale didn’t tip over. We finally stumbled on a great compromise – he gets a second check, before I go to sleep, on Sundays (or, Easter Monday). Sometimes, you just have to go to bed. But, sometimes, it really sucks when things are over and you feel overwhelmed or happy and excited, or whatever, and you just need an extra check.

What I want to draw your attention to, is our willingness to compromise and continue to find the best solution with our kids because they are learning to be their best self. We are instilling lessons about self-respect, boundaries, and good decision-making practices. More than that, self-care, and self-monitoring. We inherently understand what we need to give up to successfully raise kids; time, sleep, privacy. We choose to have kids because we are ready (for the most part) to do this, in one way or another – no matter what that looks like to someone else.

When does that stop? The willingness to continue seeing things from the others perspective so you can stay on track. Does it stop for everyone? I know a mother who, to this day, calls all four of her kids daily, visits monthly (so, is not home often!), babysits, goes on vacations, and invests themselves in helping her kids raise her seven (or eight) grandkids. Lovely, no? Don’t think that my mum is not invested in family. She is very committed to her mother, being present in her aged years, transitioning from home to nursing home. This is firmly where she wants to be, and I am in no way judging that decision. It is what she needs, and I had to come to terms with that eleven years ago. She is available to me via phone, text, letter, and travel. This was a lesson that was carved into my brain with a corner chisel. Deep, slow, and measured… a distancing that was forced to be accepted; like breaking up with someone you still love, because they want to be with your best friend. My mum will (in the kindest meaning possible) ‘get around to us’ when she is ready to spend more time in Ontario.

Being subject to enforced separation is not new to me. My mother is notorious for her 1-3 pm nap schedule (worthy of its own blog post), my sister left home without a way to contact her when I was ten, ma moved to Nova Scotia, blah-blah-blah, the list will be on paper eventually, I’m sure. In hindsight, I suppose I took exceptionally well to the, “you wait here until I get back” conditioning. In the “non-absence-absence” I feel with my family I think I tried to stay 23-year-old me: agreeable, quiet, unassuming (also banshee wailing with confused emotional needs). I did this so that they’d… I don’t know, recognize me?

I can see now that that was, well… uh… bad and am thankful for being on this side of that lesson now. But, as I said to my Madre, I don’t think she realized that this whole time she was encouraging me to change, the change wouldn’t be controllable, or reversible. So, I was stuck trying to figure out how to explain our speed bumps (too many to list, but consider every geographical, generational, genre-based, interest based difference and you’ll have begun to cover it) to her, but had to pin that to tackle the interrupting that was taking place during the conversation. We literally had to institute an “is it my turn?” policy before speaking our point. But, I’m willing to do that, instead of just ignoring things.

Change is hard and when, like a parent bird, you push your babies out of the nest, you need to be ready for them to come back looking different. In time, they may come back stronger than you – or still dependent. They may not come back for days; they may build a nest next to yours. Who knows? I haven’t pushed yet. I am not getting this from actual experience. I am getting it from thinking about what people need and what they want, and whether those things can coexist. What mine looked like, and obviously, what duder’s will look like when it comes.

Considering others when you are trying to take time for yourself (grief, growth, whatever) is not easy. Considering others when you have had to forge a lonely path, is not easy. Working through the things that tie us up, is not easy. Making boundaries and expressing real needs, is not easy.

I distance myself most often from people based on one principle. I get confused why my perceived list of expectations is seemingly much more exhaustive than others. Knowing it is partially self-created, I am not looking to point fingers. I am trying to figure out what the heck I’ve been doing. Remembering a longer list of details than the nuances that are recalled about my life, being one example, and further, being forced to hear their details repeated. I don’t forget, and even if I were to forget, they would upset – tables turned, if you knew as much about me and forgot a tidbit, I’d get over it. Genuinely. The grey zone of gatherings and commitments is a different expectation I haven’t quite grasped. Having important plans cancelled is confusing, and forces you to wonder if the repairs you’ve attempted to make to the disappointments you’ve caused, haven’t worked. But then again, you know it isn’t about you, per se, so the cancellation request is granted, and you put your hope on the shelf. Because how could you ask, when it costs them more?

So, unity and disconnect, perceived expectations. This is starting to take shape. Let’s add a final detail. I don’t know when an appropriate time frame is for getting over it or having to get on board. When to modify or raise the expectation to get on track. I am only learning to ask for things, or refuse requests, in a calm, logical, considerate way. One that is respectful of the recipient’s time and space, and includes what I honestly (bare minimum) need to make the compromise worthwhile.

My requests or admissions may seem out of the blue, I supposed. But I keep considering ‘you’ after you’re gone. I allow myself time to consider and process, which means I had to get comfortable revisiting something in a conclusive way and am now here to approach you with it.

For instance, I finally asked my mum to stop being “HELPFUL” when negatively commenting about my hair, weight, look, clothing, because well, she is not a potential partner so her input isn’t helpful if it’s counter to what feels good and attracts my partner to me. It is contradictory and negative. I have had to move out a notch on my ‘belt’ with my sis, hoping its enough space for her, finally.

What do I mean? Ok, here are random statements and my internalized response:

I worry you are overwhelmed, that you aren’t ok, and I don’t know how to help you
I either overly defend, get angry, cry, lie, fall apart, or… manage a good conversation about how I am doing, and we can look at my new reality

You are always saying you’re unhappy, you don’t get enough, you can’t do x, y, z
I get confused hearing this, feeling like I don’t talk about my stresses unless we are together, which is usually for eleven to fourteen days a year. And the odd phone conversation where I can mask the heart palpitations.

I just don’t feel like I belong here
But I have waited for my family to piece back together in an archipelago of sorts, made up of grandkids and partners, evolved from the small islands that drifted.

So, guys, unity and disconnect; in or out of the cart.

I am now an adult with a big brain who is working hard on integrating my care-taker personality with my hard-line-boundary marking, compromise making, parent-self, who had to build and scrap a few (many, who am I kidding) models of what a ‘unit’ was to me. So, I inevitably changed, didn’t stay the way I was thirteen years ago, so now she worries I am experiencing foundation issues, that I am not ok. I am ok, though. I just don’t look or sound like I did. Because there are important things we aren’t addressing, things that changed.

Speed is a theme here, but I mean the speed that is determined by what stage your relationship is at – in time. This abstract relationship has a serious impact on physical relationships. It can take over connections between people. We don’t have patience, because we are moving fast and don’t have time to fill ‘you’ in. Ma comes in for four nights (I go to bed at 9:30…) and three days, so I am JACKED on trying to come across as ok. Why? Probably because my major concern is convincing everyone I am ok, now that I am honestly ok because I want to make room for that elusive quality time.

I am seriously contemplating writing a manual for how to navigate my family depending on your proximity to the players (obviously for secret, internal consumption only). Namely, because in my own head I get ridiculously caught up in the nuances of the private, important secrets that I try and navigate with and for people I have a long history with. To answer part of the original question, it isn’t only subjective factors that affect unity and discord. Having too much information can be detrimental.

I made a few big decisions this weekend and set hard lines down. I’ve shared some, other’s I just can’t (here, or otherwise). Some of them make me sad, seeing the immediate ripple cascading down the corresponding timeline, shaking the foundation just a bit. Others are freeing, and empowering, and may lead to some cool honesty.

I don’t know who in the world is not vulnerable when sensitive to, aware of, and trying to facilitate the needs of any other, without also being sensitive to subjective mistakes. Unless there is an ‘is it my turn’ policy, interpretation can be difficult. That, friends, is when we need the storm. We need things to tumble and shake loose so that fresh buds can sprout.

My ending question then, is this: what, if any, relationships have you stopped working at being tied to that surprised you. Was it gradual; did you resist? Is it final? I am working through a lot, obviously, but mostly because I like to feel resolve. My present state is not affected, majorly, by the ruminations so why not clear the ol’conscience, right? As Aisha said, why not challenge ourselves to reflect more?

Since starting this piece, we found out the hopeful-home is now off the market, the owner feeling everything was going to quickly.

We are on a fast train baby, so if you’re on it, buckle up.


You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Steve Jobs